Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
May 20, 2010

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Caffeine reduces shift worker mistakes

New research claims that caffeine can help shift workers to make fewer errors.

Health-care research company The Cochrane Library conducted the study, which reviewed data from 13 trials that studied the effects of caffeine on the performance of shift workers aged between 20 and 30. Caffeine was given in the form of coffee, pills, energy drinks or caffeinated food. In some trials performance was assessed by tasks such as driving, whereas in others it was monitored through neuropsychological tests.

The results showed that caffeine reduced errors and led to improved performance in neuropsychological tests, which included memory focusing, attention, perception, and concept formation and reasoning.

London School of Tropical Medicine lead researcher Katharine Ker commented that the results showed a reduction in errors, which would likely lead to a drop in the number of injuries. She said: “It seems reasonable to assume that reduced errors are associated with fewer injuries, although we cannot quantify such a reduction.”

The findings concluded that further research would be required to analyse how caffeine affects the alertness of older workers. It also suggested a need to explore the effects of caffeine compared with other measures that could possibly reduce errors made by shift workers.

Related Topics

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

6 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121
14 years ago

I agree with Ali &Toon1414 on this. Sometimes I’d adapt & get right into the swing, others, I never adapt to nocturnal life. The set-up to protect workers is what puts me in the most error prone condition. Switchiing around days, nights, lates, earlies, never knowing if it’s 6 in the morning or 6 at night, tired all the time!
I’ve worked ‘supershifts’ 12 on 2 off for 6-8 weeks on a one off (safety case stuff) and I got into sleep routine & was alert – but no caffiene – I couldn’t sleep.

Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121
14 years ago

Part 2
Having carried out a straw poll of some of the shiftworkers where I work (Engineering & office staff etc) whilst doing the weekly brief. About 50% have no problem, 30% don’t like them, feel tired but feel they can do thier job ok 20% have real difficulty with shifts. Srangely 100% said they try not to drink too much coffee because they don’t sleep well & get a knock-on effect of tiredness the next night. No real science in my survey, but I’d take some advice before I reccomend caffine!

Ali
Ali
14 years ago

That might be the case. However, caffeine may be contraindicated in a number of drugs. Also it increases heart rate and blood pressure, so it may not be the panacea for everyone. Articles like this will only get people rushing to buy caffeine tablets rather than taking the common sense approach eg occasional cup of coffee.

Barry
Barry
14 years ago

i myself as a shift worker for 24 years now will say your findings are hogwash. i have done 12 hour nites all this time and i can tell you you never get used to them. however in my experience and current knowlege i have been working 5 x 12 hour nites on the trot where the guidelines say no more than 3, i also know of other colleagues in other companies are working 6 and 7 x 12 hour nites because of a reduction in staffing levels due to cutbacks, the bad thing is in the current employment crisis… Read more »

Stevepg56
Stevepg56
14 years ago

so many experts using the term loosely, so many reports another load of tripe and waste of taxpayers money

Tim
Tim
14 years ago

Ali makes some good points. While caffeine can (it will affect some more than others – so not quite hogwash) raise levels of alertness it is simply not good, for long-term health reasons, to take it excessively – or indeed become dependant upon it. It does raise blood pressure and heart rate and should never be used in this way. This is a dangerous proposition which should be stopped immediately.

Topics: